Europe Road trip – 16 days, 8 countries, 14 UNESCO Heritage sites and countless memories!
Dream! There is always a dream which keeps us alive. It keeps us alive to live the dream we dreamt, a hope to spread out our wings, an itch to cherish the experience, an urge to make the dream no more a dream. And one fine day, when you live the dream – the dream is fulfilled, your wish has come true, you are no more a lazy bum, the past __ years of your life has been worth living for and at that point, the sense of achievement is second to none!
But, is that so simple? Are dreams such an easy thing to strike off once it’s been lived? Actually, No. Dreams are like a Binary fission – just by living one dream, it gives you that kick – a kick to dream some more, a kick to dream deep, a kick to dream big!
What was the dream?
Long ago, a dream was born. A dream to travel to a continent that had charmed us with its beauty, fascinated us with its history, obsessed us to witness those lakes with surreal colors, drive on those roads with breathtaking views and the list ever ends! Our dream was to experience ‘Europe’, not just see it. We wanted to feel it in our veins, breathe it in our lungs, grab it in our eyes, sense it in our ears and allow our hearts to skip a beat! But, the problem with Europe is that it is not a city, nor a state or country. It is a Continent, a fairly big continent. Though ‘Europe’ is a 6 letter word, there is an entire world inside it with every country having its own charm, luring us dreamers to day dream!
The blessing came in when the family decided to make Europe as this years’ holiday destination. So, questions poured in. How? When? Where? What? The easy answer was the ‘packaged tours’. There is an entire industry out there, which understands some simple facts that most of the Indians who wish to go to Europe have no/less time to do research, but have lots of money to spend. So, they decide what places you see, how much time you spend there, how you travel there and what you do there. Everything is ready made; all you have to do is to shower some cash, or I can safely say, lots of cash (They accept credit cards too!). But then, taking a package tour to Europe would be like cheating in your board exams only to get passing marks. And it would be unfair to say you have seen ‘Europe’ in 15 or 25 days of your packaged tour. In that case, you only see Europe, not feel it! I am not against packaged tours, as these can be comfortable and most feasible for many people with different priorities. We tried sending our itinerary to many big travel operators and none of them came back with a positive answer. All we got was fixed itineraries; no one was ready to take to places we wanted to go!
So, What now?
So, we made a plan of solving this puzzle by ‘Divide and rule’ method. We decided that we shall take multiple trips to Europe and discover one part of it every time, experiencing and savoring each country as we travel and not rush by it. We wanted to live like locals, not like tourists. We wanted to drive those riveting roads and stop when we want to, just to soak in all the beauty and get those goose bumps as we breathe in the fresh air. We wanted to choose what we wanted to see, how we want to go and where we want to stay and when we wanted to leave. So, it was decided, it will be a self-drive and self-explore trip to Europe. Planning this trip was quite a challenge because – it was our first time to Europe, first time arranging a trip abroad for our family and first time to do a self-drive abroad. We had 12 people in family with oldest one being 73 years and the youngest one being just 3 !!
We were left with questions, questions and only questions. The answer was research, research and some more research which resulted in sleep, less sleep and even lesser sleep! We desperately needed to clear out things. So, I asked myself, what has kept me luring all these days? What is that one sight my eyes have longed to see all these years? Which is my dream country?
It had to be Croatia. But, it turned out that the flights to Croatia were a little expensive than what we had expected. So, we added Italy to the itinerary as an entry and exit point from Croatia. So, we decided to explore Italy too! After a month into planning – many places were added, many were shown way, routes were done and redone, modes of transport were optimized, accommodation was booked and canceled many times and finally VISA was applied and once the green signal was shown, the journey to the fairy tale land began. We traveled to Italy, Vatican City, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Slovenia, a small part of Switzerland through Qatar (We did some Qatar sight seeing too!). Our First Europe trip was something that cannot be illustrated in words. Let the pictures do the talking!
There was Art,
There were prayers,
In a country, that is smallest ever in the world.
There were Royal palaces, with stunning gardens and fountains that resemble a natural waterfall !
And there was Enamored Love enfolding at Wonder of the World which is centuries old !
And structures have been leaning over 800 years and took 199 years to build !
There were highways with adorable sprinklers,
And lovely trees that touch the clouds.
There were angelic mountains by the sea which mirage the sky,
And where evenings skies are sketched by the Sun.
Where pretty sights like these adorn the motorway,
Just couldn’t get over these in the land of Gelato
Where towns compete with each other in beauty,
In towns where ‘Game of Thrones’ we conquered !
Where National parks are a piece of fairy tale land !
And paths that resemble heaven !
And trails that snake all way to the top !
And bridges that made history in the modern era,
And land where mountains weave magic !
And roads that cast a spell and is a bliss to drive on !
Where tunnels invite you into a wonderland,
With a serious yet charming driver 🙂
And train journeys with stunning views like these !!
And canals that are synonymous with Romance,
Where listening to a Barcarolle while the Gondola cruises through the waterway in a symphony
Where bridges are quite some sight to see!
Where motorways are accentuated and adorned with scintillating colors !
And houses with lovely views making you wonder if this is a dreamland 🙂
And an entire village with ancestral white washed houses where you can easily get lost !
Where woman smile like fairies inviting you for a brunch (But not with them!!)
A land where food is organic and tastes divine !
And restaurants with views like these, which fill your palette (And empty your wallet!)
Where ‘Red hot babe with sexy curves’ has a different meaning!
And Vintage is not just stunning but worth drooling over!
And finally, this was the best part of our trip and hence I have kept this for last.
Where, blue is not just blue, it’s an enigma, it’s mystery, it’s bewildering, it’s unfathomable !!
(FYI: Above two pictures are unedited pics except for the watermark. The water is actually that Blue !!)
Aahh! Our experiences were all of this and much more. Really confused about what post to write next. So much to tell and so much more to share! During the next few months, the entire trip will be presented to you in detail, from the planning stage to the execution phase. We would share our experiences, secrets, tips and tricks for travel planning to Europe. A self-planned road trip in Europe is not as difficult as it is perceived. A little effort and you will have the best time of your life! If we have done it then, you can do it too!
Waiting for your feedback! Do write in your Europe Road trip experiences in the comments box below!